Attention on Supreme Court as justice weigh Trump travel ban

Claudine Rigal
Juin 26, 2017

The Supreme Court says it will decide the fate of President Trump's revised travel ban, agreeing to hear arguments over immigration cases that were filed in federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland, and allowing parts of the ban that's now been on hold since March to take effect.

"As the court's most important Justice ― at the center of the institution's ideological balance ― Justice Kennedy's ability to bridge the divide between left and right on critical issues such as the right to access abortion can not be overstated", Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, told CNN.

The ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States".

The Supreme Court will rule on Monday whether to hear the challenge to President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigration from several predominately Muslim nations.

The court said it could not uphold lower court injunctions barring enforcement of the ban against foreigners who have no connection to the United States at all.

With today's Supreme Court order, the travel ban will remain on hold for plaintiffs who challenged the executive order and for anyone who is "similarly situated", the justices say - in other words, foreign nationals who have relatives in the US, or who plan to attend school or work here.

The latest instance came Friday when Gorsuch issued his first written dissent in a minor case about a federal employee challenging his dismissal from the U.S. Census Bureau. It also allowed the suspension of all refugee arrivals for 120 days to go ahead on the same basis.

The ban was controversial in many ways.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, could play a pivotal role in both the travel ban and church playground cases. But there is a fair prospect that the argument - if it even takes place - would be a sideshow.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is "seriously considering retirement", CNN reported Saturday, intensifying speculation that the 80 year old may step down from the nation's highest court after it wraps up its current term Monday.

The decision to push up the reunion by a year helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.

Based on the list of judges Trump considered for the seat left vacant by the 2016 death of Antonin Scalia, Kennedy's replacement would likely be more conservative than he is. Also, the court has worked at such a fast pace only rarely and usually in the midst of political crises, including the dispute over the 2000 presidential election and President Richard Nixon's refusal to turn over the Watergate tapes in 1974. The country is waiting for the court to make its decision public about the biggest legal controversy in the first five months of Trump's presidency.

"It's hard for me to believe that an old-fashioned gentleman like Justice Kennedy would be impressed with Donald Trump's vulgarity and the way he behaves", Epps told the Times.

The justices have a range of options.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is seen during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House April 10, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Earlier in the day Gorsuch, 49, was sworn in as the 113th associate justice in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is sure to take part in weighing the ban proposed by the president who nominated him.

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